June 28, 2014 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: After 42 years of stuff, Sticking Charm losing its hold

By Correspondent
 

In moving forward on selling our house, I never expected to work as hard or dig through as much stuff as I have.

During this delving into the depths of closet despair, I recalled an article I read once about simplifying life. Stop buying and stashing, get only what you need and only when it’s needed the article implored. Made sense and I thought I was abiding by that concept quite well, thank you.

But I wasn’t. It’s amazing how well the Sticking Charm – to borrow from another Front Porch writer – works.

Most of us begin adulthood with the bare necessities and somehow, through life’s twists and turns, we pick up things. A bedspread here, a back scratcher there, a Swedish massage thingy for tight muscles, a foot soaker for tired feet. At one time, these things held some sort of meaning and purpose but then got lost in closets and drawers and in the shuffle of moves and mayhem. Sometimes we forgot what we bought or received as gifts and bought another … either that or the Sticking Charm has a darker side to it that allows stuff to multiply like rabbits.

The day arrived – and thankfully before a relative had to dig through our stuff – when I discovered we’d accumulated more stuff in our house than could possibly be used in a lifetime and suddenly the unsightly landfills came to mind. At least it did for me as I waded through the blankets and sheets, decorations and dishes.

I held each item up, scrutinizing its purpose while muttering “What was I thinking?” It bothered me that all this stuff might be headed to the landfill. We sold what we could, donated the rest.

I could blame this Sticking Charm phenomenon on society and its focus on having stuff. I mean people have been beaten up, even killed, for a pair of Air Jordans. I could rant about how society measures worth by possessions rarely giving thought to its necessity. I could even toss out that the adage “keeping up the Joneses” rings true with today’s Sticking Charm. We see, we want, we go after – sometimes with a vengeance.

But if I’m going to be honest with myself, there’s no one to blame but me, myself and I.

Survival hinges on very basic things – food, water, sleep, shelter. Years ago, when our teenagers pulled the “I need” chain a tad too hard, I’d tell them the only things you’re entitled to are three hots and a cot – the rest is icing on the cake. I should have listened to my own words of wisdom.

When I look back over the years, it’s not the stuff we have that brought happiness and fond memories, it’s the adventures we took, the time we spent, the laughter we shared. No back scratcher or foot soother can compete.

These past two months of clearing out 42 years of stuff have given us insight, and I believe the Sticking Charm is starting to lose its superglue hold on us. The initial shock was staggering – and we’re not done yet – but in the end, it’s the adventures yet to come and memories awaiting our arrival that will finally unravel the Sticking Charm’s spell.


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